The Ducks finished with the most regular season points in the Western last season but failed to make a deep playoff run. The NHL odds list them at 9/1 to win the Cup and go further this time around.
What Went Wrong Last Season?
In two words: playoff goaltending. The Ducks had a number of quality goaltenders but none that were a clear No. 1. In the regular season, that worked great. In the playoffs, when they needed someone to step up, nobody did. The Ducks started three goalies in the playoffs while giving up 2.85 per game.
The other main issue was the Ducks offense tapered off in the playoffs. They led the league with 3.21 in the regular season but dropped off to 2.69 in the playoffs. They need to fix those issues if they’re to cash in on those 9/1 NHL odds.
The Ducks hope that some shrewd offseason moves can provide more scoring depth and alleviate those playoff scoring concerns. At the same time, they’re hoping that internal solutions fix the goaltending.
Starting with the scoring, the Ducks acquired Ryan Kesler, who should give them an excellent one-two punch at center with Ryan Getzlaf. They also took a one-year, $1 million flier on Dany Heatley. If those two pan out, the Ducks will have a much more balanced lineup. Previously, they had been top heavy with one strong line and not much behind it.
In terms of goaltending, the Ducks let Jonas Hiller walk in free agency and decided to go with Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. Both are youngsters on the rise but one will have to emerge as a true No. 1. The hope is that Gibson is that guy but until we see it, it’ll be hard to bet on the Ducks.
The Ducks retooled a little bit in the offseason but we’re not sure if they are better. Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings seem like all-around better and deeper teams. When making your NHL picks you should keep in mind that for the Ducks to compete, they’ll need Gibson or Anderson to emerge as a star. We’ve seen this team fail in the playoffs for multiple seasons now and there’s no reason to believe that changes…for now.
NHL Pick: Lose In Second Round